United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division
BARRY A. BRYANT U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Walker (“Plaintiff”) brings this action pursuant
to § 205(g) of Title II of the Social Security Act
(“The Act”), 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) (2006),
seeking judicial review of a final decision of the
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
(“SSA”) denying his application for Disability
Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) and Supplemental
Security Income (“SSI”) under Titles II and XVI
of the Act. The parties have consented to the jurisdiction of
a magistrate judge to conduct any and all proceedings in this
case, including conducting the trial, ordering the entry of a
final judgment, and conducting all post-judgment proceedings.
ECF No. 5. Pursuant to this authority, the Court
issues this memorandum opinion and orders the entry of a
final judgment in this matter.
applications for DIB and SSI were filed on March 12, 2013.
(Tr. 32). Plaintiff alleged he was disabled due to mental
problems and illiterate. (Tr. 263). Plaintiff alleged an
onset date of September 27, 2012. (Tr. 32, 263). These
applications were denied initially and again upon
reconsideration. (Tr. 48-51, 58-59). Thereafter, Plaintiff
requested an administrative hearing on his applications and
this hearing request was granted. (Tr. 161).
administrative hearing was held on March 19, 2015. (Tr.
49-84). Plaintiff was present and was represented by counsel,
Russell Byrne, at this hearing. Id. Plaintiff and
Vocational Expert (“VE”) Dale Thomas testified at
this hearing. Id. At the time of this hearing,
Plaintiff was forty-five (45) years old and had a tenth grade
education. (Tr. 53-54).
April 24, 2015, the ALJ entered an unfavorable decision
denying Plaintiff's application for DIB and SSI. (Tr.
32-43). In this decision, the ALJ determined Plaintiff met
the insured status requirements of the Act through June 30,
2013. (Tr. 34, Finding 1). The ALJ also determined Plaintiff
had not engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity
(“SGA”) since September 27, 2012, his alleged
onset date. (Tr. 34, Finding 2).
determined Plaintiff had the severe impairment of bipolar
disorder, schizophrenia, antisocial personality traits,
substance addiction disorder, and seizure disorder. (Tr. 34,
Finding 3). The ALJ then determined Plaintiff's
impairments did not meet or medically equal the requirements
of any of the Listing of Impairments in Appendix 1 to Subpart
P of Regulations No. 4 (“Listings”). (Tr. 35,
decision, the ALJ evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and determined his RFC. (Tr. 37-41). First, the
ALJ indicated he evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
complaints and found his claimed limitations were not
entirely credible. Id. Second, the ALJ determined
Plaintiff retained the RFC for medium work, however, he must
avoid working in proximity to unprotected heights and
dangerous moving machinery; cannot operate a motor vehicle;
can understand, remember, and carry out only short, simple
instructions; can perform only simple, routine, and
repetitive tasks with no fast paced, high quota production
work; can make only simple work-related decisions; can adapt
to few, if any, workplace changes; and can tolerate only
occasional interaction with co-workers, supervisors, and the
general public. (Tr. 37, Finding 5).
evaluated Plaintiff's Past Relevant Work
(“PRW”). (Tr. 41-43, Finding 6). The ALJ found
Plaintiff was capable of performing his PRW as a hand packer.
Id. The ALJ also determined Plaintiff retained the
capacity to perform other work existing in significant
numbers in the national economy. (Tr. 42). As a result, the
ALJ determined Plaintiff had not been under a disability as
defined by the Act from September 27, 2012 through the date
of his decision. (Tr. 43, Finding 7).
Plaintiff requested the Appeals Council review the ALJ's
decision. (Tr. 27-28). See 20 C.F.R. § 404.968.
The Appeals Council declined to review this unfavorable
decision. (Tr. 1-4). On July 20, 2016, Plaintiff filed the
present appeal. ECF No. 1. The Parties consented to the
jurisdiction of this Court on July 22, 2016. ECF No. 5. Both
Parties have filed appeal briefs. ECF Nos. 11, 14. This case
is now ready for decision.
reviewing this case, this Court is required to determine
whether the Commissioner's findings are supported by
substantial evidence on the record as a whole. See
42 U.S.C. § 405(g) (2006); Ramirez v. Barnhart,
292 F.3d 576, 583 (8th Cir. 2002). Substantial evidence is
less than a preponderance of the evidence, but it is enough
that a reasonable mind would find it adequate to support the
Commissioner's decision. See Johnson v. Apfel,
240 F.3d 1145, 1147 (8th Cir. 2001). As long as there is
substantial evidence in the record that supports the
Commissioner's decision, the Court may not reverse it
simply because substantial evidence exists in the record that
would have supported a contrary outcome or because the Court
would have decided the case differently. See
Haley v. Massanari, 258 F.3d 742, 747 (8th Cir.
2001). If, after reviewing the record, it is possible to draw
two inconsistent positions from the evidence and one of those
positions represents the findings of the ALJ, the decision of
the ALJ must be affirmed. See Young v. Apfel, 221
F.3d 1065, 1068 (8th Cir. 2000).
well established that a claimant for Social Security
disability benefits has the burden of proving his or her
disability by establishing a physical or mental disability
that lasted at least one year and that prevents him or her
from engaging in any substantial gainful activity. See
Cox v. Apfel, 160 F.3d 1203, 1206 (8th Cir. 1998); 42
U.S.C. §§ 423(d)(1)(A), 1382c(a)(3)(A). The Act
defines a “physical or mental impairment” as
“an impairment that results from anatomical,
physiological, or psychological abnormalities which are
demonstrable by medically acceptable clinical and laboratory
diagnostic techniques.” 42 U.S.C. §§
423(d)(3), 1382(3)(c). A plaintiff must show that his or her
disability, not simply his or her impairment, has lasted for
at least twelve consecutive months. See 42 U.S.C.
determine whether the adult claimant suffers from a
disability, the Commissioner uses the familiar five-step
sequential evaluation. He determines: (1) whether the
claimant is presently engaged in a “substantial gainful
activity”; (2) whether the claimant has a severe
impairment that significantly limits the claimant's
physical or mental ability to perform basic work activities;
(3) whether the claimant has an impairment that meets or
equals a presumptively disabling impairment listed in the
regulations (if so, the claimant is disabled without regard
to age, education, and work experience); (4) whether the
claimant has the Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) to
perform his or her past relevant work; and (5) if the
claimant cannot perform the past work, the burden shifts to
the Commissioner to prove that there are other jobs in the
national economy that the claimant can perform. See
Cox, 160 F.3d at 1206; 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1520(a)-(f). The fact finder only considers the
plaintiff's age, education, and work experience in light
of his or her RFC if the final stage of this analysis is
reached. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520,
brings the present appeal claiming the ALJ erred: (A) by
failing to find Plaintiff met a Listing, (B) in the weight
given the opinions of Plaintiff's physician, and (C) in
failing to properly consider Plaintiff's subjective
complaints. ECF No. 11, Pgs. 2-20. In response, the Defendant
argues the ALJ did not err in any of his findings. ECF No.